Jill Sobule doesn’t necessarily mind when confused fans ask her about the new I Kissed A Girl song by Katy Perry, which has the same title as the track that made her famous for half a heartbeat back in 1995. After all, hers was a cute, tongue-in-cheek look at a girl’s nervous excitement at having kissed a member of the same sex, while Perry’s isn’t much more than a Girls Gone Wild theme song, trying to get a guy’s attention by making out with another chick.
Katy Perry is the spunky daughter of two Christian ministers who enforced a strict, gospel-only approach to music when she was a child. What better way to rebel against the bible thumping curfew-setters than with her own album, full of Avril-inspired nonsense that rages unconvincingly about boys, boys, boys? It’s a fitting tale of road trips with friends a la Britney Spears’ Crossroads, bi-polar ex-boyfriends and coming into one’s self in the most narcissistic, disposable way possible with the help of exactly the kind of people who know just what it’s like to be a teenage girl: producers Glen Ballard and Dr. Luke (both over 50 years old), among others. The latter is nearly singlehandedly responsible for the success of pop-trash icon Avril Lavigne, having co-wrote and produced nearly all of her “hits.” The former, well, his accomplishments are formidable, but for every Aerosmith or Quincy Jones on his resume, there’s a Wilson Phillips and a Paula Abdul.
But that’s neither here nor there. Millions are millions, right boys? The bare facts here are that Katy Perry’s got a smokin’ body (see photos below) and exactly the mix of pipes, attitude and image that justifies her poster replacing idiot Brit mess Lily Allen’s in the main office lobby of Capitol Records’ Los Angeles building, but let’s not be too quick to call this sugary nonsense good. One Of The Boys doesn’t come off convincingly as the glossy rebellion it’s supposed to, instead treading somewhere between the soundtrack to the next low-budget teen-romance flick and the strip club.
There’s an endearing essence to the first impression One Of The Boys offers, but that whole scene lasts all of about 27 seconds. I saw a spider and I didn’t scream / Cause I can belch the alphabet / Just double-dog dare me… it’s once those guitars start rising and the song kicks into gear that it becomes clear what this song, this album, and Katy Perry, for that matter- are all about: cashing in on the newest movement of grrl power, hotter and slicker than that scowling little Sk8er Boi poser could ever manage, but still, somehow, utterly devoid of soul. And that’s a fucking crime, considering her hitmakers have worked with Michael Jackson and Aretha fucking Franklin.
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas? What 23 year old knows a goddamned thing about the dark side of Vegas? Oh, that’s right, none do (except the whores, that is).
Thinking Of You is grasping, formulaically and unconvincingly, at the heartstrings with a whisper-to-falsetto verse, soaring-chorus and overall delivery that pretty much guarantees its place on future “mood music” CDs at your local Abercrombie & Fitch store. Ballard may as well have given this one to Alanis Morrisette; it sounds just like her anyway.
Mannequin starts like a live Ani DiFranco jam, and there goes that spark of hope again, acting up at the hint that this one could be a redeemer. But then I had to go and listen to the lyrics: I wanna hit you just to see if you cry / I keep knocking on wood, hoping there’s a real boy inside / But you’re not a man / You’re just a mannequin. Pay attention, Miley: chicks’ frustrations with teenage male indifference is an untapped market in the pop world. So put your shirt back on and get writing.
UR So Gay– This one’s bound to elicit smirks from dads passing their tween daughters’ bedrooms this summer, a righteous assault on the eyeliner / girl-pants / fagcore bullshit that’s infested the modern male. I can’t believe I fell in love with someone who wears more makeup than me, Perry croons, incredulous. Points for this one.
Lost– Ever find yourself face-down in a puddle of your own vomit, wrapped around the toilet? Ever been tempted to write a tinkly, pretty song about it? Too late, it’s been done already.
Use Your Love– Holy fucking Christ. I don’t suppose any of you remember that old Outfield song Your Love? You will once you hear this glossy psuedo-cover, with lyrics entirely re-written to center on the female point of view. It’s got spunk, but try pulling any of this shit off without Pro-Tools. The Outfield did it. Katy Perry can’t. The end of the track is bewildering and retarded, with Perry repeating the line I think I’m done fucking singing this song over and over, but if you can get past the over-production and blasphemous rewording the song’s pretty good overall, if only for the nostalgia.
When fat, gay millionaire bloggers with their sausage fingers on the pulse of what’s hot start calling her “one of the breakout stars of the summer,” I guess we’d better get used to seeing Perry’s charismatic nubiliciousness all over the place. That’s all fine and good- she’s hot as hell. Katy also comes across as the kind of chick that can throw ’em back and trash talk with the best of ’em, and that wins her points for sure. She seems like she’d be a lot of fun to hang out with.
Just don’t expect us to listen to this shit.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.